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PROVO, Utah (AP) — It is not unusual or inappropriate for a mayor to give a gift to guests as they visit the city. In the past, Provo mayors have distributed cufflinks, mouse pads, books, fancy pens and large food baskets as VIP graft.
As a defining symbol of his administration, Mayor John Curtis has chosen to give away pairs of socks.
These aren't just any old socks. These are men's and women's designer footwear featuring crazy patterns and the name John Curtis on the tag. They are called Mayor's Sox by John Curtis. Each pair is wrapped with a cardboard band that also has the symbol of the mayor's office on an attached lapel pin.
While he claims he doesn't have a foot fetish, Curtis is always willing to lift his pant leg and share his sock-o'-the-day. In fact, Curtis claims he is asked to do so every day.
"It's not a serious moment," Curtis said. "People get a big kick out of it. It's to the point now I can't go anywhere without being asked to see my socks.
"I have an embarrassing amount of socks. I get socks given to me on a regular basis, too. Men don't get much personal expression. Socks can be my personal expression."
Curtis wears socks with everything from large, lime-green polka dots, to multi-colored stripes, to geometric patterns in purples, greens and light yellows.
And he doesn't stop there. He makes sure the socks match his tie. He has recently added bow ties to the mix. Whether or not he is fashion forward is best left to the critics.
With socks being shared in VIP circles, Curtis gave out 150 pairs at the recent executive summit at Sundance. Being that they are an item that represents the mayor's office, some residents want to know how he is paying for the darn things.
"The socks are $2 a pair," said Corey Norman, deputy mayor. "When we find something this fun, we go out and raise money for it."
The money comes from donations and is directed to the Provo City Foundation. Such items are paid for out of that account.
"We spent $400 and bought about 200 pairs of socks," Norman said. "It's not taxpayer money and it is not PAC (political action committee) money."
In fact, Norman is in on the sock kick as well, and says he is the one who actually encouraged Curtis by way of an in-office competition.
"A couple of years ago, the mayor and I were joking around about our wardrobe," Norman said. "He started coming in with socks that matched his shirts.
"We'd compare our socks. We had a competition. Although my socks were consistently the best socks, everyone in the office tried to impress the mayor by voting for him."
"He (Norman) cannot own the fact his socks come in second," Curtis said.
Eventually, the socks took on a life of their own. Norman did say there have been a couple of times when he and Curtis wondered if they were going too far with the socks.
"People have embraced this about (the mayor)," Norman said. "It's been a lot of fun. It developed so organically; it's something we didn't force."
With less than 100 days until Christmas, Curtis is already shopping for green and red socks to give out as part of Santa's gifts from the city.
"I always struggle as to what to give as gifts at Christmas time," Curtis said. "The socks are the answer."
Information from: The Daily Herald, http://www.heraldextra.com
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